What is an air-conditioning system and how does it work?

Editorial team|3 minutes to read

Lots of people think that the purpose of air conditioning is to keep a room or enclosed space cool. But that’s not the whole truth. A good air-conditioning system ensures that the air within a room or space is pleasant. It can do more than just cool the air. Air conditioners extract moisture from the air, and a drier cabin ensures cleaner windows.

What does an air-conditioning unit do?
An air conditioning system changes the temperature, humidity level and quality of the air you breathe. It does this by removing heat from the air in the room, extracting the air to outside and replacing it with fresh air from outside, which has to pass through an air filter to enter. Because hot air can hold more moisture than cooler air, the more humid air in a previously warm space is replaced with drier air.

How does an air conditioner work?
An air conditioner can be used in all seasons, to regulate temperature, humidity and air quality. If the air humidity is too high, you often feel uncomfortable and stuffy. High humidity levels also cause condensation on cold surfaces and fogged-up windows; annoying in a room and potentially very dangerous in a vehicle. By combining air conditioning with your heating, you can set the perfect temperature for the season: cold, dry air in the summer and heated dry air in the winter.

What does an air conditioner consist of?

1. Compressor
The compressor pumps aircon refrigerant at pressure, from 2 bar to about 16 bar. The temperature of the aircon gas rises from 20°C to 65°C.

2. Condenser 
The condenser cools aircon gas again (to around 35°C) and liquefies it.

3. Filter dryer
This filters the refrigerant and extracts the moisture, so that the dirt and moisture is removed from the air conditioning system before pushing clean air back into the room or vehicle cabin.

4. Expansion valve
This valve expands the refrigerant from a liquid to gaseous state, by lowering the pressure from approximately 16 bar to 2 bar. This lowers the temperature to 0°C.

5. Evaporator (and blower)
First, the heat is extracted from the environment. The evaporator is located near the expansion valve, which ensures that the heat is extracted from the evaporator. This heat is needed to allow the liquid refrigerant to evaporate into gas. The air then cools down and blows the cold air out of the air con unit or your vehicle cabin fans. The gaseous refrigerant returns to the compressor for a new round.

Difference between summer and winter use
For maximum cooling in your vehicle cabin, put your air con into recirculation mode. The air sucked in is then cooled further and further. This ensures that the temperature in the entire cabin is lowered. Set the level as high as possible, for rapid heat and moisture reduction; you can adjust for comfort once the air con has done the hard work.

Vehicle air con tip: Let the cold air flow mainly from the centre grilles of the dashboard, but don’t point it directly at your body. In a particularly warm cabin it is a good idea to drive a couple of kilometres with your windows open before turning on the air conditioning.

Winter driving, and particularly during rain, all too easily results in windows misting up and reducing visibility. The best way to make sure that your windows dry quickly is to turn on the air conditioning and direct the cold air flow to the windscreen. The air that enters is now further cooled, which causes it to dry. Then the air gets warm through the heater, giving you warm dry air for comfort.

Maintaining your air conditioning unit
Different air con units require differing levels of maintenance; at times of intense use, it may be necessary to change an air filter as often as once a month. Generally speaking, the air filter will need periodic cleaning (although some filters cannot be cleaned) or replacing, to stop it getting clogged up, reducing efficiency, increasing running costs and even allowing dirty air back into your space.

Do you have any air conditioning system questions?
We’re always happy to help. Just call your Kramp product specialist or contact us directly at knowledgecenter@kramp.com.

Share on
Editorial team

This article was written by:

Editorial teamknowledgecenter@kramp.com